Monday, 24 September 2012

Banana and Date Loaf

I had a few over ripe bananas to use up ( I won't eat them when they get to this stage.. too soft... yuk! )

So got out a very old recipe of mine which I've adapted from an even older
recipe from Delia's Complete Cookery Course..... Banana and Date Loaf !!
It's a really easy, all in one method which is great for using up old bananas ... I sometimes make it and freeze half so I always have a bit of cake to get out of the freezer if friends are coming round. It's really moist and tasty and I decided to put a layer of caramel in this one, although it's just as good without.

Banana and Date Loaf

75g Soft Butter
110g Caster Sugar
1 large egg
225g Plain Flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
4 medium bananas ( peeled)
grated rind of 1 lemon
75g Dates, roughly chopped
I/2 jar dulce de leche ( optional)

Preheat oven to 180 o c / 170 o c fan
Grease and line a loaf tin, base measuring 9 x 19 cm.
Place the butter, sugar, egg, sifted flour and baking powder in a large mixing bowl or electric mixer.
Mix together until fully combined .. don't worry if it looks a bit dry at this stage.
Place bananas in a large bowl, chop and mash.

Add the lemon rind and mashed banana to the cake mix and beat thoroughly.. then mix in the chopped dates

Place half the mixture in the prepared tin and spread, carefully, the layer of caramel on top, if you wish...

Then place the remaining mix on top and level off ..

Bake in the centre of the oven for 50 to 55 minutes until the loaf is golden, well risen and springs back when pressed

Leave to cool in tin and turn out ... then slice ..

If you want you can freeze half ... if it lasts that long !! enjoy xx

Friday, 21 September 2012

Beetroot and Vanilla Cupcakes

I seem to spend a lot of time between jobs catching up with friends, as I'm away so much, and I never need an excuse to bake but these were brought to my attention by a tweet from the magazine, Lancashire Life, and thought they sounded interesting and worth a go ........
Invited my girlfriends round for a Friday lunch now all the kids are back at school and they went down really well .... so moist and really good flavour ... easy to make too..

Beetroot and Vanilla Cupcakes (makes 15)

250g Caster Sugar
250g Soft Butter
4 large eggs ( separated )
250g Self Raising Flour
250g plain cooked ( vacuum packed ) beetroot, drained ( keep the juice back for colouring icing ) and pureed
2 tablespoons vanilla extract

for icing

300g icing sugar
150g soft unsalted butter
few drops of roseflower water ( to taste )
few drops of beetroot juice, to colour

Preheat oven to 180 oc

Beat together sugar and butter until light and creamy.
Add egg yolks,flour, pureed beetroot and vanilla and beat until smooth.
In a clean bowl, whisk egg whites until fairly stiff.
Take a large spoonful and beat into cupcake mix to loosen it a little.
Using a metal spoon, fold the remaining egg white gently through the mix, taking care not to over beat.

Spoon mix into 15 large cupcake cases and bake for around 20 mins until firm to touch.
Cool on a wire rack.

To make icing ....

Beat the icing sugar and butter together.
Add a few drops of rose flower water and beetroot juice to colour.
Spread or pipe onto cakes and decorate with glitter if you want.

The pink mix before egg whites added..

Out of the oven .....

Icing piped on and glitter added...

And close up ....

And finally, cut into ..

I know they sound a bit weird, but they really are delicious.. enjoy x

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Launch Party for Celebrity Bake Book

I had a wonderful evening last night at the launch of the Celebrity Bake Book, in which is my recipe for a Cherry Bakewell Cake.... The reception was hosted by Food Network Uk at the fabulous restaurant One Blenheim Terrace where we were treated to champagne out of teapots and lovely canapes, savoury and sweet... I post some photos after a little info about Linda and the team behind the idea and book ...  
 Celebrity Bake Book is a collection of baking recipes and sweet delights from a variety of celebrities, celebrity chefs and politicians. All proceeds from the sale of the book will go to The Ben Kinsella Trust.
The book is the idea of Linda Morris and her committee, “The Baking Belles” which comprises of the following people:
Linda, enjoys baking and is mother to a professional chef, Ed Shaerf (Chef Patron at One Blenheim Terrace).
Ingrid Salida, loves cooking and volunteered to test our celebrity recipes by baking all of them to ensure they all work.
Lindsay Shaerf, is our legal eagle, a solicitor and wife to Ed Shaerf.
Anouska Plaut, is a childbirth educator, journalist, great cake baker and mother to two young children.
Elisa Margolin, studied BSc in Food & Consumer Management at university and is a fantastic novelty cake baker and a mother to two young children.
Linda has been involved with charity work in Islington for the past eight years and knew of The Ben Kinsella Trust and how it important it was for it to take an anti-knife crime exhibition to schools around the country to educate children of all ages and achieve its aims. The committee all agreed that this was such a worthwhile cause and set out to compile this book and raise the much needed funds for the Trust.
The idea to raise the funds, came to Linda after she started a Cake Club, where a small group of her friends get together, share recipes, bake, taste and discuss the fruits of their efforts one evening a month. From this came the idea of producing a baking book using recipes from well known people. Linda’s friends from the Cake Club offered to help and so “The Baking Belles” committee was formed to produce the book. Linda came across the publisher Hazel Cushion at Accent Press who told her that if she could find a high profile baker then she would publish the book. The first person Linda contacted was Mary Berry who immediately kindly agreed to write the Foreword and contribute two recipes and who, unbeknown to Mary, was the person who convinced Hazel to publish the book and gave Linda the confidence to contact as many celebrities as possible, which she did mainly through Twitter. The response has been overwhelming, with so many people saying how they are delighted to contribute and support such a worthy cause.
So a great book for a great cause.... please buy if you can, a perfect present for the keen bakers amongst us, birthday or Christmas.
Champagne served from teapots ... great idea

Thrilled to have met Edd Kimber @theboywhobakes, who won the 1st series of the Great British Bakeoff  and Paul A Young @paul_a_young, master chocolatier

And a pudding canape ......

The book is available from Amazon and really is delightful. Here is the link, please support The Ben Kinsella Trust  ...

Thankyou xx


Drambuie Marzipans and Chocolate Peppermint Creams to finish ...

I decided to finish off the dinner party with chocolate s to go with coffee and thought I'd have a go at making them instead of popping to the shops ... had a whole day to play in the kitchen for once !!
I loved making them as I'm a little OCD and they tasted wonderful ( even if I do say so myself!!)

Drambuie Marzipans ( or whatever you have in the cupboard )

Makes around 30

250g Marzipan ( shop bought )
2 tablespoons Drambuie
150 g Dark Chocolate ( at least 54% cocoa solids )
Icing sugar for rolling
Almonds to decorate ( whole and peeled )

Put the marzipan in a bowl and knead and mix in the drambuie.
Put in fridge to chill for an hour.
Spinkle icing sugar on the work top and roll out marzipan to 1 cm thickness ( or whatever thickness you wish )
Cut into rectangles or roll into balls if you prefer.
Place on a  piece of baking parchment on a baking tray and chill again.
Meanwhile melt the chocolate in a bowl, either in the microwave or over a pan of simmering water.
Using a cocktail stick, dip the marzipans into the chocolate and let it drip off back into the bowl, then replace on the baking sheet and put an almond on top to decorate.
Repeat till all the chocolates have been done and then put in the fridge to set. ( they are best kept in the fridge until just before serving )

Before Choc .....

And after ....

If you are a marzipan lover like me ... Enjoy x

And now

Chocolate Peppermint Creams

These are so simple to make...... Makes around 40 ( best to make day before needed as they need to dry out before putting on chocolate )

1 large egg white
400g icing sugar ( could be a little more or less depending on egg size)
extra icing sugar for rolling and dusting
2 teaspoons peppermint extract ( or creme de menthe )
few drops of green colouring ( if you want to )
150g Dark Chocolate ( at least 54% cocoa solids )


Lightly whisk the egg white until frothy but not holding it's shape.
Gradually stir in the icing sugar and peppermint extract and colouring to create a pliable paste.
Put in fridge for 10 minutes.
Sprinkle icing sugar on the work top and roll out the paste to a 1 cm thickness ( you'll need lots of icing sugar as it easily sticks)
Using a cutter, makes shapes or just roll in a ball and press flat.
Place on baking parchment on a baking tray and leave ( covered ) for 24 hours.

Melt chocolate in a bowl, either in microwave or over a pan of simmering water.
Dip the creams into the chocolate until half covered and place back on baking parchment.
Put in fridge to set and they are best kept in a tin in the fridge until just before serving.

They went down very well at the dinner party even after all those puds !

Before choc...

And after ......

And both chocolates ready to serve....

 Have fun and enjoy xx



Chocolate Orange Fondants and Almond Pannacottas for Dinner Party ..

Finally found some time to have some friends round for dinner and spent a lovely day in the kitchen preparing everything. Decided on individual puddings and went for Chocolate Orange Fondants and Almond Pannacottas.
I was able to make the pannacottas the day before as they keep well in the fridge....Being brave making them as they have become my nemesis after a disaster in the finals of Masterchef at Theo Randall's restaurant where they didn't set properly ( but then again I only had 2 and a half hours to make 3 puddings).... I was determined these were going to ' turn out' well !!

Almond Pannacotta with Berries  (makes 8)

8 leaves of gelatine
800ml double cream
200ml whole milk
2 vanilla pods
100g caster sugar
2 tsps almond extract ( or amaretto to taste )

100g caster sugar
100ml cassis ( or any summer fruit based liquer )
200g raspberries
200 g blackberries or blueberries


Soak the gelatine in cold water for 10 minutes to soften.
Pour the cream and milk into a saucepan, split the vanilla pods and add too.
Bring to boil, remove from heat and leave for few minutes to infuse.
Shake off excess water from gelatine and stir into the pan.
Add sugar and continue to stir over a low heat till dissolved.
Take out vanilla pods and add almond extract.
Lightly oil 8 individual ramekins or cups and put them on a tray.
Pour the mix into each and chill for at least 2 hours, but best overnight.

Pour 200ml water into a saucepan, add the sugar and cassis, bring to boil.
Add 100g of each fruit and cook slowly for 30 mins until reduced to a lovely syrupy consistency.
Push through a sieve and then add remaining berries and allow to cool.

To serve .... dip the ramekins in hot water for a few seconds to help turn out and spoon the berries on top or to the side.

It worked !!! Was thrilled ... won't be scared of them again ! Enjoy xx

And Now .....

Chocolate Orange Fondants ( makes 10 )

Bit tricky too ... but the timings are the main thing to be careful of.. know your own oven's heat and adjust or practise one at an earlier stage and adjust length in oven for your own, perfect fondant .... gooey in the middle !!

230g dark chocolate
230g butter
6 whole medium eggs
4 egg yolks
100g caster sugar
grated zest of 2 oranges
100g plain flour

for sauce

4 large oranges
300g caster sugar

for cream

300ml double cream
3 tablespoons Cointreau
2 tablespoons caster sugar

dark choc to grate to decorate

To make sauce

Take off strips of peel from two oranges with a zester
Grate zest of one of the other orages and save for pudding mix
Put strips of peel and juice of all 4 oranges into a saucepan and add the sugar.
Stir on a low heat until sugar dissolves and then boil for about 8 minutes till it thickens.
Leave to cool at room temperature.

To make puddings

Preheat oven to 190 o c / 170 o c fan.

Melt the chocolate and butter in a bowl, either in microwave for a couple of minutes or over a bowl of simmering water. Leave to cool a little.
Whisk together the eggs, egg yolks, sugar and orange zest until really light and fluffy, doubled in volume ( best to use electric hand or standing mixer)
Fold in the choc mix and then the sifted flour.
Spoon into buttered ramekins or pudding basins and either cook for 10 minutes ( or time best for your oven) or keep in fridge, covered, for a couple of days and take out when required an hour before cooking to get to room temperature.

For cream

Whisk the cream, cointreau and sugar until it forms soft peaks

Turn out pudding to serve with a spoonful of the cream and a big drizzle of the sauce.
Grate dark choc over to decorate.

And opened up ... fingers crossed !!...

Hurrah !! Good Luck everyone and Enjoy xx


Monday, 10 September 2012

Stollen Buns ... and here's the recipe !

Stollen Buns ( Makes 15 large buns)

250g soft butter
250g caster sugar
4 medium eggs
250g self raising flour
2 tsps vanilla extract

250g marzipan ( shop bought)
65g raisins
70g glace cherries
20g mixed peel

300g icing sugar
cherries and raisins to decorate


Preheat oven to 190 o c / 180 oc fan

Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy
Beat in the eggs and vanilla extract
Fold in the flour
Fold in the raisins, peel and cherries ( halved)
Split the maripan into 15 pieces and roll into balls
Spoon a dessertspoonful of mix into cases and put the marzipan ball in the middle of each
Spoon another spoonful of mix on top making sure the marzipan is covered
Bake in the oven for 15 minutes until golden and risen

Allow to cool
Make up icing with enough water to make a spreading consistancy
Spread over buns and decorate with a cherry and raisins


Stollen Buns... I know.. it's 3 months till Christmas !!

I was clearing out the kitchen cupboards last week ( happens once a year or so ) and I found an, out of date, Fortnum and Mason's Christmas Pudding .... well it was delicious and got me thinking about Christmas ... only 3 months to go !!!!
I adore marzipan, as you'll see from my earlier post of Marzipan Mince Pies, and thought of other Christmas treats containing it.
Stollen is one of my favourites and I thought I adapt it into some quick and easy buns or cupcakes. I wasn't sure how the marzipan centre would turn out but was thrilled when I cut into the cooled buns .... a perfect ball of marzipan .. YUM !!
I finished the batch of buns off with icing and raisins and cherries and took them as an afternoon treat to BBC 3 Counties Radio where I was on the Nick Coffer show to talk about a local children's hospice at home charity Pepper that I'm raising awareness for
They went down very well.... Give them a go.. and all in plenty of time for Christmas !! Xxx

And a little closer to see the marzipan...

With Nick Coffer  ( @nickcoffer ) and a bun.....

And Brenda and Elaine from the Pepper Charity join us ..

If you love marzipan give them a go ... enjoy x

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Scones for Afternoon Tea with the Stars !!

My friend Emma Kelly @strictlywestend was organising a concert for a wonderful charity .. The Peterson's fund for children .. and asked if I would host. Of course, I said yes and offered to do some baking too.
We had a wonderful afternoon at the Prince of Wales  theatre in the Delfont room. It was jam packed and we were treated to some fabulous singing from  Louise Dearman, Gina Beck, Daniel Boys, Zoe Birkett, Sarah Lark, Zoe Tyler and many more. Lots of money was raised for such a great cause.


Put 1lb Self raising flour in the food processor with 4oz butter and whizz.

Place in large bowl and ad 4oz sugar and 4oz sultanas. Cover with cling film and go to bed.
Then in the morning put oven to 190oc and mix one egg in a measuring jug and make up to 1/2 pint with milk. Gradually add to dry mix until have dough. Cut out and brush with mix and sugar tops.

Into oven for about 15 mins.

A couple of hours later .. there were about 50 !!

Easy and delicious xx

Brownies as a present !

Off out to friends for a late lunch today and thought it would be a nice idea to take home made brownies instead of a box of chocolates ; think they look really pretty and I know exactly what has gone into them ... really fresh and matural ingredients ..


300g Dark Muscavado sugar
3 eggs
200g butter
200g dark chocolate ( at least 54% cocoa solids)
2 tsps vanilla extract
125g plain flour


Preheat oven to 170 o c / 160 o c fan

Grease and line a square 23 cm baking tin with baking parchment
Put eggs and sugar and vanilla extract into a mixer and beat for a good 5 mins until really light and pale and creamy.
Meanwhile, put butter and chocolate into a bowl and melt in microwave for 2 mins ... then mix well and cool slightly.
Add to sugar and eggs mix, folding in lightly until mixed thoroughly.
Do the same with the flour.
Pour into baking tin.
Bake in oven for 25 minutes utnti the top is cooked and cracking slightly but the inside is still gooey.
Remove and cool completely in tin ... needs a good few hours.
Remove and cut into squares ... usually 16 but if making as a presentof choc size .. cut into 36.
Dust with icing sugar and serve.

Lemon Curd and Fresh Cream Sponge

I'm so sorry it's been ages since I posted but work and Summer Hols have meant very little baking and time here !! Mustn't complain but have missed it terribly ..... I've been asked by John Scott ( fashion guru and tv presenter ) @johnnyscotty to create a recipe and send a pic for a charity he's patron of .... Rainbow Trust for children ... and here it is ...

Lemon Curd and Fresh Cream sponge

250g soft butter

250g caster sugar

4 medium eggs

1 lemon

3 tsps lemon extract

250g self raising flour

300ml double cream

1 lemon

300g icing sugar

1/2 jar good quality lemon curd

2 sandwich tins, greased and lined



Preheat oven to 190 o c / 180 o c fan

Grease and line tins

Cream together butter and caster sugar until really light, pale and fluffy

Add and beat in eggs

Grate zest of 1 lemon and add that and the juice, plus extract if you like it really lemony.

Fold in flour and divide mix between the sandwich tins

Bake in oven for 18 to 22 mins until risen and golden

Allow to cool and turn out of tins

Whip double cream with the zest of the other lemon.

Spread lemon curd on top of one sponge and then generous layer of cream

Gently add and press on top sponge

Make up icing with as much lemon juice is need to make thick spreading consistency

Spread icing and put in fridge to set for a couple of hours.

Anything lemon is my favourite so I hope you enjoy !! xx